Sunday Part 1


One last time for pre-show act The Antipoet, kicking us off with typical bombast, then, three tracks in, they announce a Serious Poem – It’s Not Guns That Kill People. They ask if they should try doing more serious stuff, and the crowd absolutely concur. The moody bass rumble and the backing track add to the atmosphere of the rant against the NRA their ilk. Next comes their tribute to their sadly departed mate Tony, who they met at Glastonbury (Martial Artist Physiotherapist). By the time that’s done, the swelling crowd lap it up, chuckling and cheering. While Ian has finally donned his spiky, patent high-heels boots and basque on in this tent, Paul strips off for They’ve Got To Learn, an enthusiastic defence of the power of profanity. The lads’ partners join them to help the audience out with a set of cue cards with the extraordinary words written on them. The audience manage very well to chime in at the right time. Then crowd favourite I Like Girls kicks off (and I’m invited to grant the audience a alternative (queer, non-binary) perspective, as has become traditional over the years). They finish with a round of thanks to everyone, the flourish of new album title track Punk Uncle, and a roar of glorious cheers.

Compere Rosy Carrick takes to the stage in dungarees and revelations about her morning ablutions. She then gives a rousing, touching introduction to… oh, wait, it’s me…

Blogger Fay Roberts takes to the stage. To say I’m nervous would be understating this tremendously… And then I do my usual opening piece, Blissful Chance, and it turns out I do know what I’m doing, and the smallness and passivity of the audience and the loud drag yoga on the Sensation Seekers stage doesn’t phase me (though that’s quite the leotard!), and I’m grateful, in retrospect that my first appearance on the stage was with The Antipoet, because it’s only another festival stage and I know how to do this, and the key thing is not to let people know you’re bricking it.

The beautiful soul that’s Dominic Berry took some lovely photos and videos, and here they are (well, one of them – we’re experiencing a small problem with videos… they’ll come later)

We have a surprise guest (for complicated reasons – I won’t bore you), Australian artist Omar Mousa. His bars glitters across the beat of the outside, tackling Australian culture and toxic masculinity. I am in an adrenalin come-down, and busy signing the one book I’ve sold, so I don’t take in much, but I am going to look him up later, not least for stepping in at the last minute for reasons that… well…

Shama Rahman takes to the stage amidst a tangle of technicians and wires and instruments and cases and musicians and busy-ness (an audience member tells us he’d “rather be warm than Wu-Tang” in response to Rosy’s request for expansion on why he didn’t like their “mostly karaoke” set last night. I was busy having a loneliness and exhaustion melt-down, but I heard their chants and oddly congruent backing tracks while trying to settle down). Rosy performs her Arnold Schwarzenegger poem from Friday, then, the musicians being unready, another one I’ve not heard before, about the awkwardness of holding hands (called, oddly enough, Holding Hands).

The band launch as swiftly as possible into their truncated set with Ships In The Night, which passes through at least three different musical genres that I can count in dizzying profusion. Shama tells us that all her songs start as poems, and the next one is another person’s poem, which translates as Matchstick – “It’s a revolution song… don’t underestimate the power of a single matchstick – it could burn your whole house down…” I assume it’s in an Indian dialect (I’ll check later). She then gives us the title track from her latest album: Truth Be Told, the one with the glorious dance (the one I had in my head as (I Sing To Myself) Song To The Sea, as that’s a repeated refrain). And the synaesthesia shivers kick off for me with the beautifully dissonant ripples of instrumentation, and her voice dances between ribbons of mystical shimmers with an almost forceful, rock-inflected delivery. (I find myself forgiving her for sitting on my beloved cajon, which I unwisely left on the stage after its brief appearance with The Antipoet). The final track (All In Your Mind?) is yet another genre, the sitar and bass snarling under her chanted, almost rapped lyrics. The sound technician outdoes himself, giving her almost more reverb than is decent (almost!), and the growl of poem-song draws more intrigued audience members. Let’s hope they stay through the inevitable disentangling (and me retrieving my drum) to watch the next act!

Murray Lachlan Young takes to the stage, introduced as “the suavest man in existence”, which he grins at (and somehow manages that with faded, black jeans, a nondescript top, and flip-flops – it’s probably partly the voice, and partly really suiting silvering hair), asking us to bring the energy up with applause for ancient nomadic structure, recently emptied compost toilets, the benevolent part of Universal Consciousness, then a series of things that no-one likes or wants to applause. Then bongos. “Tippy-tappy-tip-tap-tap” he demands from the audience, which they’re, well, a little too listless to engage with. It melds into a series of rhythmic portraits of festival clichés, followed by a query: should we have a national referendum about the thong (men, wearing thongs, specifically). Young men flee towards to the end, and he weaves that into his outro. According to his recent reading, the tipping point has come: Britain has more famous people than normal people. He gives us a poems mostly using the words known and unknown, which growls and keen through the full range of his amazing voice. Honestly, his voice has only got more theatrical and astonishing over the years since my brother and I first stared at him on late night 90s TV. He goes on to rhythmically pillory one of P Diddy’s more outrageous antics in something uncomfortably close to an impersonation of a stereotyped, young person of colour. Avoiding going to the loo has apparently reached new, dark levels (eating charcoal tablets to avoid defecation until the person takes a laxative). The toilet talk continues. Horrific mentions of despair and death concerning Glastonbury history… with regard to defecation. Again, I’m struck with the phenomenon of headliners talking more between pieces than doing pieces. The Voice of a Portaloo follows, almost inevitably.

Someone tried to crash out in his tent, which is near the naked male sauna, where he did a naked gig, including the next piece: Tae A Scrotum (yes, in the style – and accent – of Rabbie Burn). I snigger helplessly. I won’t lie. We finish with the “erotic folk song poem” Dogging – what folk songs aren’t singing about, apparently, but should. “You’ll be pleased to know there’s a singalong chorus: And a-dogging I will go/ Oh, a-dogging I will go”). It’s a tour of the UK as seen through the medium of carparks.

(Yes, I got a selfie. What?!)

Courtney Conrad takes to the stage in a floaty, open black dress combo with big, pale flowers interweaving on it (yes, I’m still noticing clothes – don’t @ me, as they say). Her delivery is even stronger than her first performance on Friday. It’s a very similar set to that one, but with some I didn’t hear last time, and the usual enjoyment of summoning up other moments I’d not captured then. Maybe I’m in a different place myself today, but I hear more strongly the intensity of both her love and despair for her family and cultures, the difficulties of language and translation of Otherness within Otherness. It’s brave and quiet and a gritted teeth sharing of brutal, beautiful truths.

(I missed taking a photo of her. Sorry!)

Jonny Fluffypunk is greeted with an “Edinburgh Fringe size of audience” so, to the sound technician’s mild disquiet, he drags the mic and stand into the auditorium, but luckily he knows what he’s doing when it comes to sound equipment and feedback, so no horrific feedback ensues. “If you were here yesterday, you’ll learn a valuable lesson about the craft of seemingly spontaneous banter.” And then goes on to start with a very similar rant, minus the rock ’n’ roll bit, then a different kick-off poem – his ode to coffee, which breaks the fourth wall at nearly every other line, asking for audience participation to better complete the fourth line in the spelling section gifted to him by Oxford: “F – Fuck Tea!” (we end up with “Filtered, frothy, fumigates my brain…”). It’s reached that point of the festival where nearly everyone references the toilets… To be fair, they get emptied halfway through JFP’s set, adding a distinctive fragrance to proceedings. And, like the drifting whiff of human marsh gas, I wander out of the tent to make myself a sandwich. I’m sure the set ended well, though.

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Magical, Musical Poetry Preview

We were invited to join Tongue Fu at The Ancient Futures stage in the Tipi Field tonight. Fronted and formed into gloriously chaotic improvisational poetry goodness by Chris Redmond, a band makes magic out of already magnificent poetry. It’s never sounded like this, and it will never be the same again.First up of our poets: Paula Varjack, with typically cabaret-vibe élan, two pieces about the dangers of dating artists, and the perilous duality of bisexual, femme identity.Next up: our illustrator Scott Tyrrell with a cautionary tale about intimacy in the context of family life (the piece that, incidentally, got him into the final round of the BBC EdFringe Slam final (which he the won, obviously). Brace yourselves.Then, after an anecdote-song by the host about cannibalistic children (don’t ask), I got up to do my bilingual poem Stroke, but I have no evidence, so you’ll have to take my word for it.Next up the pugilistic compassion of our Poet-in-Residence Vanessa Kisuule, giving us her Malleable Manifesto – a way to live, or not, recognising your own divinity.The band expands, shimmying from Vanessa’s instruction to emulate James Brown looking out of the window into an extended riff as as a trumpet joins the line-up, beckoning our current slam champion Jackie Juno to the stage with a poem about how the universe birthed the world with a word – fitting the particular décor of the yurt and elevating it into magic.Chris then summons long-time co-creative-conspirator Liv Torc to deliver that extraordinary piece about three generations and the impact of truth and hope (as if accompanied by the band on the Titanic).Chris exhorts the crowd to our feet so we can join in the chorus to his song about us all rowing the same boat, along a similar theme of environmental responsibility, dedicated to Liv, then keeping us there for one more song, decrying the spying capabilities of social media (we all chant “Who’s telling me what?!”). A banging evening, a chance to get to know – and watch live finally – some of the other poets, and a great warm-up for the rest of the weekend!

Interview with Fay Roberts

We sent interview forms out to our artists, and we’ll be sharing their stories here on the blog. Next up, well I thought I should probably do this as well:

Fay Roberts by Scott Tyrrell

Fay Roberts by Scott Tyrrell

Your Name

Fay Roberts

Website

http://www.fayroberts.co.uk

Twitter handle

@fayroberts

Instagram handle

@fayrobertsuk

Video

Audio


http://bit.ly/speakingstrings

Facebook Page

https://www.facebook.com/FayRobertsPoet

How did you get into poetry/ spoken word?

Poetry was always something that other people wrote (and that I performed at school) for many years until I started dating a poet. Finally, in 2006, I entered the inaugural slam for a magazine run by a mate in order to support them. I was terrified, but that terror fed an adrenaline rush like nothing else I’d experienced in decades of performing music. It all kind of cascaded from there.

Who are your influences/ idols?

Zena Edwards, Rosie Garland, Mark Gwynne Jones, Jo Bell, Rachel Amey, Tina Sederholm… in fact, pretty much the whole cast of Other Voices over the years… way too many people to list. Let’s leave it there for now.

What’s the one thing you’d like people to know about your work?

It’s really hard to encapsulate in a short space of time.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in spoken word/ performance poetry?

Go to as many events as you can. Listen as well as perform. Be bold and apply for things you think you might never get. Do favours for people, but learn when and how to start setting boundaries around time, travel, cost, etc. Turn up on time, be pleasant to work with, treat it as a proper job, and yes – you can improve on your work; never stop working on your craft.

Who are you looking forward to seeing/ what are you looking forward to doing at the Festival?

Apart from all the performers at P&W (I’m wildly excited to see both those I know and those new to me; you may have picked that up from the blog), I really want to see Ms. Lauren Hill, Janelle Monae (even though I’m seeing her in London a couple of days later!), and KT Tunstall. I’m also looking forward to wandering around the site when I can (mostly on Thursday!) and taking in the atmosphere, plus catching up with a few old friends (and probably bouncing in a dance tent somewhere if I can persuade anyone to join me – and possibly just doing it anyway).

Have you been to Glastonbury Festival before?

Yes

What’s your stand-out memory of the Festival?

It’s a toss-up between the handfasting we helped witness in the Brigid garden, after watching the sun come up over the stone circle; the people duelling with rather large, muddied dildos in the middle of the night; and standing in a field that had turned into mudflats minus the salt, watching Faithless chant the sun out from behind the clouds. Mind you, not completely convinced that last one was Glasto…

What’s the one thing you simply must bring with you to the Festival?

A set of clean, dry clothes (or even just underwear) you’ve kept separate from everything else to travel home in.

What advice would you give someone visiting the Festival for the first time?

You cannot experience everything. Don’t timetable yourself too rigorously – leave aside some time to just wander and take it all in. Enjoy your Glastonbury, and enjoy other people’s anecdotes of their Glastonbury – don’t let FOMO screw you, and make sure you Maslow yourself (water, food, sleep)!

Have you performed at Glastonbury Poetry&Words before?

No

What words would you use to describe your work/ your act?

poetry, performance poetry, spoken word, theatre, music

What do you like best about doing whatever you call whatever it is that you do on stages?

That bit afterwards where people enthusiastically talk about the journey they went on listening to your work – it may be something completely different from what you intended, and that’s pretty magical!

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

I’m feeling an interesting combination of ferociously fortunate, giddily excited and mildly terrified. Can’t wait! ☺


You can see Fay Roberts at 12:05-12:30 Sunday at the Glastonbury Poetry&Words stage. Read our previous article about zir here.

Introducing: Fay Roberts, blogger

Fay Roberts (c) Louise Frohock

Performing for the first time with us is Fay Roberts, 12:05-12:30 Sunday. If ze’s new to you/ you’d like a reminder, read on:

In zir own words:

“Born in 1975, Fay is a classically-trained singer from Cardiff who has been getting on stages since the early ’80s. Ze was finally bitten by the performance poetry bug in Spring 2006 in, of all places, Milton Keynes, after a favour to a friend turned into a place in the final of a poetry slam. These days ze describes zirself as ‘a performance poet and peripatetic percussionist who by day pokes projects and by night projects across a microphone…’

“Ze has been involved with the Cambridge chapter of Hammer & Tongue since 2010, hosting it since January 2012; and frequently performs across Central and South-East England. Ze set up Cambridge arts label Allographic in 2011, hosting live events and producing poetry anthologies, pamphlets, and books. Ze has been the Artistic Director of Spoken Word at The Free Fringe in Edinburgh since 2013, and host of critically-acclaimed Fringe show Other Voices Spoken Word Cabaret since 2012. In 2014, ze ‘won’ the Edinburgh Fringe Anti-Slam (where the worst poem and performance with the lowest points wins a terrible prize), as judged by Mark Grist, Rachel McCrum, and Oh Standfast. In 2017, zir first solo show, The Selkie, was shortlisted as best spoken word show of 2016-17.

“Ze still sings – it’s actually practically impossible to stop zir…

“Zir work has been described as: ‘lyrical’, ‘engaging’, ‘scarily good’ and, memorably: ‘too many words… I got lost…’ Zir voice has been described as: ‘musical’, ‘mellifluous’, and ‘mesmerising’.

“Fay has performed poetry in: pubs, clubs, theatres, tents, shopping centres and stately gardens; in open mic, showcases, features, support, collaboration, competition and costume. Sometimes ze bangs a drum, and sometimes ze performs in silence, while the words flutter in front of zir…”

Reviews:

“We need more poetry like this… funny, confident, modest and a really bloody good poet to listen to” Hollie McNish

“Her poetry combines lyrical flair with a solid emotional core… there is no one quite like her” Tim Clare

“Gorgeously sensuous” SabotageReviews.com

“Known to us as ‘The Welsh Whisperer’, Fay Roberts has the ability to bring a room to total silence, her mellifluous tones sending her audience into a dream like trance… cannot recommend her highly enough.” – Paul Eccentric, speaking part of The Antipoet

Fay’s Scott’s words:

As Fay has been exquisitely bigging up the rest of us, I decided as a Poetry Blogging Alum to say a few words about zir.

With the calm of a Summer pond and the voice of an ASMR specialist, Fay is a velvet cushion of a poet, threading words together with the weft and warp of a witch with a PhD in word crochet. We first met many years ago at the now no-more Jibba Jabba spoken word night in Newcastle where ze was headlining and I was main support. I was doing my usual ‘well if I’m not headlining I’m going to be amazing and storm this to make the headliner work for the top slot’ load of bollocks, Prima Donna thing. No one need have worried, not only did ze deliver a beautiful, layered set but ze’d actually written a poem during the course of the night celebrating the best lines and sentiments spoken on stage that evening. I was extremely impressed.

Not only is ze a wonderful, respected poet in zir own right, an hilarious send-up of the archetypal Somerset hippy as zir Anti-Slam alter-ego, Melody Starchild, but ze’s also an amazing Hammer & Tongue Host, an unwavering, stoic advocate for Spoken Word and a voice of calm reason in a sea of artistic temperaments. It’s no wonder ze’s been asked to be Poetry Blogger this year for the world’s most iconic outdoor festival. And I reckon ze’s already doing a better job than I did. And I stormed it. Amazing, I was. People still talk about it 😉

Sneak preview:

Introducing the Chroniclers

Hello there! How’s 2019 shaping up for you so far?

Applications for this year have closed and, while the rest of the team are busy picking some of the best spoken word artists out there for Glastonbury Poetry&Words, we thought we’d take this opportunity to introduce you to two of the other people whose job starts well before June in chronicling what’s to come and the weekend itself.

Images

Did you know that Glastonbury Poetry&Words have our own illustrator and on-site artist during the Festival? Scott Tyrrell will be rendering the artists into art as he has done for the past several Glastonbury Festivals. Here’s some more about him:

scott@1.5x-8

Scott has been a poet and performer since the turn of the century. An award-winning comedian, creative director and multiple slam-winning poet (including the BBC Slam and UK Anti-Slam), he has performed his work at Glastonbury, the Edinburgh Fringe, the Prague Fringe, STAnza, WOMAD, Larmer Tree and the Cheltenham Literature Festival. He has written for TV, radio and performed for Radio 4, Radio 3’s the Verb, Sky Atlantic, ITV, BBC4 and BBC Arts. His most recent poetry collection, Honest, is published by Burning Eye Books. He lives in Newcastle with his wife, son, a goldfish, a one-eyed cat and a small fluffy dog.

Words

And joining him to document the long weekend in words (and the occasional photo), and to let you know what’s coming up via this site, is Glastonbury Poetry&Words 2019’s blogger, Fay Roberts. Here’s some more about, well, me (hi):

Fay@1.5x-8

Fay Roberts is a peripatetic, percussive performance poet by night, and a professional projector by day. Ze runs the Cambridge branch of the Hammer & Tongue slam series, and zir own poetry label Allographic (which functions as a small press and a platform for performers), along with directing the Spoken Word section of The Free Fringe in Edinburgh from 2013 to present. Ze is a classically-trained singer, a self-taught drummer, a bit of a mumbler sometimes, and speaks with zir hands. In 2014, ze “won” the Edinburgh Fringe Anti-Slam (channelling the spirit of Melody Starchild). In 2017, zir first solo show, “The Selkie”, was shortlisted as best spoken word show of 2016-17.

(I promise to keep this “writing about myself in third person” stuff to a minimum! ☺)

Are you following us on social media? You can find us on Twitter, Facebook, and now Instagram, and we’ll be using the tag #GlastoPoetry19 where at all possible.